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Lối sống lành mạnh : Glossary
[2007-09-18 09:23] (3,102)

Hyperlipidemia is a condition where the blood stream contains too much fatty acids or fat, such as cholesterol or triglycerides. Cholesterols are the representative fats that are commonly found within the blood streams. It is a component of the cell wall of living cells, and an important energy source. Therefore, there should always be a certain amount of cholesterol within your body. However, overly high levels of cholesterol can cause various vascular diseases, so you need to pay attention.

  • The reason why hyperlipidemia is a problem is because it is a major risk factor for arteriosclerotic diseases. If there is too much cholesterol or triglycerides in the blood, they cling to the walls of the arteries (which are also called the human waterway or the fuel supply passageway) and leads to a condition called arteriosclerosis.

In other words, the arteries will narrow and block the flow of blood. When the arteries start narrowing due to arteriosclerosis, the risk of acquiring serious cardiovascular diseases increases. The representative diseases are myocardial infarctions, heart failure, and cerebral strokes, also called paralysis. In the 1960’s, the U.S. reached the peak mortality rate from heart failures caused by arteriosclerosis or coronary artery disease. During the last 30 years, however, this level has decreased by 50%. Analysis tells us that this was all the result of the national efforts in controlling the risk factors and treating hyperlipidemia. At present, the mortality rate in Korea due to arteriosclerotic heart failure (coronary heart disease) is only 1/7 of the mortality rate of U.S. (1993 standard). However, the mortality rate is showing a sharp increase in recent years. The reason is because the diet of Koreans are becoming more and more westernized. In particular, the increase in the fat levels in the blood plays an important role.

  • Hyperlipidemia is found commonly in smokers and nonsmokers alike. It is a condition that can be controlled, so you should take care in managing it.


Hyperlipidemia has no specific symptoms. The main threat of hyperlipidemia is that it may cause arteriosclerosis over a long period of time. At the moment, no specific symptoms occur, which is why you should pay even more attention. Despite having hyperlipidemia, you may feel no discomfort initially, which may cause you to overlook the problems of hyperlipidemia.


Hyperlipidemia can be easily diagnosed through a simple blood test. The concentration of fat in the blood is affected by dietary influences and may be higher right after eating. Therefore it is important to take the test after 14 hours of fasting to see the accurate amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. Several values appear in the results of the blood test, and you will need to understand what these values represent.

  1. Cholesterol combines with a protein called lipoprotein to move around the blood vessel. This protein has various roles depending on the type of lipoprotein.
    • The most important lipoprotein is the low-density lipoprotein, LDL. The cholesterols that bind with this protein are the cholesterols that stick to the vascular walls.
    • On the other hand, the high-density lipoprotein, HDL carries the cholesterols from the arteries to the liver, and a high amount of HDL can prevent arteriosclerosis.

Therefore it is optimal to have a low level of LDL or the ‘bad cholesterol’ and a high level of HDL or the ‘good cholesterols.’ However, abnormally high levels of HDLs can also cause problems, so it is important to maintain an appropriate level. The ‘cholesterol level’ that we commonly refer to is the total cholesterol level that includes the LDL-cholesterols, HDL-cholesterols, and other lipoprotein cholesterols. If this level is high, it would cause some problems, but need not pay much attention. What you need to look out for is the level of LDL-cholesterols and HDL-cholesterols in the blood.

  1. Triglycerides are also fat substances in blood but differ from cholesterols. Too much triglycerides can also cause arteriosclerosis. The triglyceride levels are very sensitive to diet. If you had a meal with a lot of fatty acids, unlike the cholesterols, the triglyceride level will soar. Also, triglyceride level increase with the alcohol consumption.


  1. The most important thing to do to lower the fat content of the blood is to decrease the amount of fat consumed. Therefore, the most basic thing to do is to control your dietary habits. Refrain from eating food with too much fat, and try to eat meals with a smaller amount of calories.
  2. Also, it is important to burn the body fat through exercise. Exercise increases the amount of ‘good cholesterols’ or the HDL cholesterols in the blood, so you should exercise if you have hyperlipidemia. Exercise should be carried out for at least 30 minutes per day, 4 times a week. It is not recommended to try hard-working exercises that test your physical stamina.
  3. Initially, you should control your hyperlipidemic condition, through everyday life therapy methods. This method will not decrease the fat level in the blood in a short period of time. You have to wait at least 2-3 months and get reexamined to know if your hyperlipidemia improved.
  4. If the high level of fat persists even after the everyday life therapy efforts, you will have no choice but to rely on medications. The medications also take a long time to have an effect. You should get reexamined after 2 months of medications to get a blood test and determine if the use of medications is appropriate and whether or not there are any side effects. The most common side effect of the medications for hyperlipidemia is decreased liver function. In most cases this condition does not appear, and if it does, stopping the medication also stops this side effect, so you do not need to worry about these side effects.

How long do you have to continue this treatment for hyperlipidemia? Basically, treatment for hyperlipidemia lasts a lifetime. Hyperlipidemia is a ‘condition’ or a ‘constitution,’ rather than a ‘disease.’ Therefore, even if your levels drop to the normal level, you are not cured. If it can be cured by everyday life therapies, patients with hyperlipidemia should continue the dietary plans and exercise for the rest of their lives. If medications are necessary, you will have to depend on these medications for the rest of your life. Even if the fat levels stabilize after taking the medication, it is not recommended to stop taking the medications.


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